You may have heard someone tell you that you need to upgrade your WordPress website. What they really mean is that you need to update your website software. If you’ve got a WordPress website, getting a WordPress upgrade (or update) is easy, simple, and typically costs you nothing.
So why bother with it? You’ve seen that message at the top of your website after you log in that says an upgrade is available, but you know it’s going to require time and energy to do the update. You also might be worried that updating WordPress is going to break your site. These are all legitimate concerns, but you don’t have to be worried.
The main reason you need a WordPress upgrade or update is for site security—old versions of WordPress, and especially old versions of plugins, often have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
That’s the number one reason to update WordPress and your plugins—keeping your site secure.
All Websites Get Hacked Eventually, Not Just WordPress
Unfortunately, this problem is not limited to WordPress—WordPress isn’t less secure than other content management systems. In fact, it’s probably more secure in many cases.
The reality of owning a website these days is that someone WILL attempt to hack your site at some point. The question is: will you be prepared when it happens? A WordPress upgrade and plugin updates are the first simple step you can take to keep it from happening.
A WordPress Upgrade is Recommended by the FBI
If you are regularly updating WordPress and your plugins, your site is already much more secure. But if you’re not, even the FBI has put out a warning to try to get you to get that WordPress upgrade you’ve been putting off.
Earlier this week, the FBI released a statement saying that vulnerabilities in an old version of WordPress (version 1.4.3.) had been hacked by ISIS sympathizers—yikes! You can read the full version of the article here.
The good news is that most people with WordPress websites don’t need to worry about this particular vulnerability because it affects an old version of WordPress. If you’ve recently gotten a WordPress website, this particular vulnerability doesn’t affect you.
Some Plugins Are Still Vulnerable
That’s not to say there aren’t other plugins that are vulnerable. If you’ve been using the Yoast plugin for your SEO, you may have been hacked recently (we had to fix a few of our client’s websites because of this problem).
All of this could have easily been avoided by updating the Yoast plugin and WordPress as soon as the vulnerability became known. That’s why it’s super important that you keep up with what’s going on with WordPress (or whatever content management system you use) to know when (not if!) something has been hacked so that you can protect yourself.
How to Update Your WordPress
Updating your WordPress site is simple, but you need a plan before you get started.
Don’t just hit the update button! Backup your website first, and make sure you backup to a local system (your home computer for example) because you don’t want to backup to a server that you lose access to for one reason or another.
Once you’ve backed up, you can hit the update button. Everything should go smoothly, especially if you’re just doing a WordPress upgrade.
One great thing about WordPress is that the core files should never mess up your website. WordPress is very backwards compatible, and every new update keeps in mind that many people are using old versions of WordPress. If you haven’t updated in a long time, don’t let that keep you from getting a WordPress upgrade! Late to the party is still on time for WordPress.
Once you’ve updated, create a schedule of how often you’re going to update—we recommend once a week (once every two weeks at the absolute max).
Remember, it’s up to you to keep your site secure and have a plan in case it gets hacked. Fortunately, if you don’t have the time or want to expend the effort keeping up with all your updates, we have maintenance plans available—we’ll keep your website in tiptop shape so you can get back to running a business. Click here to see our available maintenance plans.